District Attorney’s Office Also Funding Contract to Create Blueprint for New Manhattan Criminal Court Resource Center
New Requests for Proposals Available at CJII.org
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced two significant investments aimed at creating innovative programming and supporting existing services for New Yorkers reentering communities after periods of incarceration. The District Attorney’s Office is also funding the creation of a blueprint for a new Manhattan Criminal Court Resource Center to better enable low-level offenders to navigate and utilize programs and services that comprise non-jail sentences, ranging from community service to mental health programs. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is funding these initiatives through the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (“CJII”), which was created using criminal forfeiture funds obtained through settlements with international banks for violating U.S. sanctions.
“Any effort to reduce crime must address the needs of those returning to our communities after being incarcerated,” said District Attorney Vance. “Unless we provide these individuals with access to the resources they need – from employment to supportive housing to mental health services – the cycle of recidivism is bound to continue. Similarly, as we work to reduce unnecessary incarceration, we know we must not only expand sentencing options for low-level offenders that do not include jail, but provide better access to these programs and services for the thousands of defendants that come through our courts each year. I look forward to investing in programs that have been proven to be successful in reducing recidivism, and to learning more about the new and innovative work happening in this field, with an eye toward funding more projects in the future.”
City University of New York Institute for State and Local Governance (CUNY ISLG) Executive Director Michael P. Jacobson said: “These investments will make great strides toward increasing public safety and preventing future crime. Investing in reentry is investing in prevention. When people are leaving jail or prison, we have a chance to help address the needs and circumstances that may have led to their incarceration to prevent future recidivism. Enhancing current services—and seeking out thoughtful, new innovations—will go a long way towards helping people succeed when they are back in their communities. And at Manhattan Criminal Court, developing an engaging Resource Center capitalizes on the huge opportunity to connect the thousands of people passing through the Court to a variety of resources to help them with employment needs, mental health needs, and much more.”
NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Director Elizabeth Glazer said: “The new investments announced today by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office will be important additions to effective reentry in New York City. The Mayor’s office looks forward to partnering on these efforts.”
In a separate, related announcement Mayor de Blasio today announced a new re-entry system that will begin with expanded risk and need assessment on the first day that someone enters jail, offer five hours every day of programming that addresses an individual’s unique needs, and continue with support – including new employment and educational programs – after someone leaves jail and returns to the community.
Reentry Services Support and Innovation – $15 million
Each year, approximately 75,000 people return to New York City following a period of incarceration in jail or prison.1 Individuals often enter jail or prison with complex needs in areas including employment, education, housing, and behavioral health. The experience of incarceration itself can create new needs and exacerbate existing needs, contributing to a cycle of re-incarceration. In fact, a recent study found that 42 percent of people released from New York State prisons returned within three years. To address these challenges, the District Attorney’s Office is 1) supporting programming with a proven record of success, and 2) offering funds for new ideas through an innovation challenge.
To support and strengthen the work of current service providers, the District Attorney’s Office is seeking proposals to enhance, expand and increase coordination among existing reentry services and supports in New York City to address the multiple and wide-ranging needs of individuals returning from jail and prison, and in doing so, improve outcomes for reentering individuals, reduce recidivism, and increase public safety in New York City. In particular, the District Attorney’s Office is seeking proposals to:
- Create new programmatic elements tailored toward specific populations;
- Increase the number of individuals served by an existing organization; or,
- Promote coordination among providers to enhance wraparound services by creating or enhancing networks of existing organizations.
The District Attorney’s Office is also launching a Reentry Innovation Challenge to elicit, support, and test innovative strategies to fill key gaps in New York City’s reentry landscape. The District Attorney’s Office is especially interested in identifying programs that effectively support people who are leaving City jail. The needs of this population remain largely unaddressed due to unique challenges, such as providing much-needed services and programming for what are often relatively short periods of incarceration. During the first phase of the Reentry Innovation Challenge, the Office is eliciting letters of interest that describe innovative, high-impact, and scalable programs to be planned and piloted in New York City. Select applicants will be invited to submit full proposals for funding during the Challenge’s second phase.
Manhattan Criminal Court Resource Center – $150,000
Each year, Manhattan Criminal Court handles approximately 60,000 low-level cases, many of which are resolved with a non-jail disposition. Frequently, case dispositions require a defendant to complete mandated programming – ranging from community service to mental health programs – as a part of his or her sentence. Currently, sentencing options are particularly limited for individuals who, though they may not present a risk to public safety, have a history of misdemeanor convictions. Typically, these defendants face hurdles such as unemployment, lack of education or housing, and physical, behavioral, or mental health challenges that contribute to their recidivism.
The District Attorney’s Office is requesting proposals to create a blueprint for an accessible, welcoming, and engaging Resource Center to reimagine Manhattan Criminal Court as a locus for resources that increases access to service providers, while providing prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys with better non-jail alternatives tailored to a defendant’s needs. A well-planned Resource Center should:
- Expand upon current non-jail sentencing options, including for those with criminal histories;
- Serve a more diverse range of defendants’ needs; and
- Provide comprehensive and coordinated access to voluntary services for defendants passing through Criminal Court.
The District Attorney’s Office will fund up to $150,000 for a 6-month award to plan a Resource Center in Manhattan. The District Attorney’s Office may award implementation and capital funding for the Resource Center at a future date.
CJII Research and Consultation Process
The CJII plan and investments are the result of an extensive process incorporating research, data analysis, and outreach to community leaders and stakeholders conducted by CUNY ISLG. As the technical assistance provider, ISLG analyzed research in areas affecting public safety in New York City, including systemic factors at the neighborhood level that have an impact on crime, and data from a number of agencies involved in the criminal justice system. In addition, ISLG conducted extensive interviews with more than 250 experts in the criminal justice community and related fields, including clinical practitioners; leaders from philanthropic, non-profit, and grassroots organizations; representatives of local, state, and federal government agencies; academics; and elected officials. Following this process, ISLG worked with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to develop a comprehensive set of investments that, together, will have a significant, lasting impact on public safety and justice reform in New York City. ISLG provides technical assistance to the Manhattan DA’s Office for CJII and will provide program oversight and monitor the performance of grantees selected under CJII.
Previously Announced Investments
In February, District Attorney Vance announced the investment of $45.9 million to create and construct five “Youth Opportunity Hubs,” a first-of-its kind effort to knit together community-based providers and build new physical spaces for young people in target Manhattan neighborhoods. District Attorney Vance also announced an additional $12 million investment to help organizations specializing in family and youth development expand their capacity and develop innovative new services.
In October 2016, District Attorney Vance announced funding to develop an abusive partner intervention program ($1.4 million). In September 2016, District Attorney Vance announced funding to: divert individuals arrested on low-level offenses from the justice system ($6.5 million), develop social enterprises to employ formerly incarcerated and at-risk New Yorkers ($7.3 million), and support youth aging out of the foster care system ($5.3 million). In June 2016, District Attorney Vance announced funding to: expand the Project Reset diversion program to serve additional qualifying teenagers ($600,000); increase access to services for victims of crime ($11.4 million); and develop community navigators to connect individuals to the resources and services they need to prevent future crime and re-victimization ($1.6 million).
These funding opportunities follow other recent, transformative investments by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, including: $7.5 million to pay for college programming at New York State prisons; $90 million to equip the NYPD with tablets, handheld devices, and mobile databases for every police officer and patrol car; $101 million for critical NYCHA security upgrades, including cameras, lighting and keyless access; $38 million to help end the national backlog of untested rape kits; $40 million towards the City’s comprehensive mental health initiatives, including $14 million for supervised release for eligible defendants pre-trial; $25 million to form the cross-border, cross-sector, not-for-profit Global Cyber Alliance; and $7.5 million to expand Saturday Night Lights, the District Attorney’s Office’s signature youth violence prevention initiative operating in 14 locations across Manhattan.
Additional funding opportunities that support efforts to prevent crime, improve approaches to working with victims of crime, and increase and enhance diversion and reentry options for people involved in the criminal justice system, will be announced in the coming months.
 New York City Department of Corrections (NYC DOC). Releases in 2015. Provided by DOC to ISLG on January 25, 2016.